Regional Plan Outlines Ocean County Growth Focused Around Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site, Joint Base

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TOMS RIVER-Rail lines, commercial space, affordable housing, military and medical research facilities, manufacturing and warehousing are all highlights of a monumental long-term project that focuses on the redevelopment of the Ciba Geigy Superfund site in Toms River, New Jersey.

The plan called the “Route 37 Economic Corridor Vision Plan” is a multi-agency effort compiled by the Together North Jersey Taskforce, a coordinated effort with the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Townships of Toms River, Township of Manchester, NJ Transit and various other entities within Ocean County calls for large scale development and redevelopment of the Route 37 corridor.

In June, the development of Ciba Geigy was a contentious issue in the Toms River Township Republican mayoral campaign.    Candidate Daniel Rodrick made the development of the Superfund site one of the pillars of his campaign platform.  Toms River officials had denied plans for a “City” the size of Hoboken as Rodrick claimed, but the study conducted in 2015 calls for major development along Route 37, west of the Garden State Parkway.

Together North Jersey, in conjunction with local entities released a “Vision Plan” for the project.

Related Document: Download the full “Vision Plan” here.

The Route 37 Economic Corridor Vision Plan seeks to create an economic development corridor between Toms River Township and the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (Joint Base). The study area is centered on NJ State Route 37 from the Garden State Parkway westward to the Joint Base and includes portions of Toms River Township, Berkeley Township, Lakehurst Borough, and Manchester Township. The focus of the Vision Plan is to better utilize existing assets and link technology-oriented employment and mixed use development to improve the corridor.

“Residents in the study area commute north for higher paying jobs and the County as a whole lacks job opportunities that provide livable wages,” the plan states. “The predominant form of housing in the study area is older senior communities which have seen high vacancy rates. There are very few other housing options and the reliance on automobiles of residents of the municipalities in the study area makes housing less affordable due to the added cost of commuting by car.”

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The Economic Corridor Vision Plan includes nodes for improvements, infill, and redeveloment for more efficient land use and transportation options. Source: Together North Jersey.

The plan’s executive summary identifies the need for more resilient housing options for the community which was struck hard in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy.

“The impact of Super Storm Sandy has intensified the need for more resilient housing options and a diversified economy,” the plan outlines. “Toms River Township and Berkeley Township are waterfront communities that rely The Study Area includes sections of four Ocean County municipalities within the half-mile-wide corridor centered on Route 37 BURLINGTON COUNTY Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst MONMOUTH COUNTY OCEAN COUNTY Manchester Township Toms River Township Berkeley Township Lakehurst Borough Barnegat Bay 0 2.5 5 10 miles STUDY AREA heavily on secondary homeowners and tourism.”

The plan clearly identifies that the former Ciba Geigy (now BASF) site is the “largest opportunity site in the corridor”.

It also identifies a secondary growth site in Manchester, the Heritage Minerals site.  The plan also identifies a large portion of the Ciba-Giegy site as an unrestricted 800 acre “Neighborhood Node”.

The plan calls upon municipalities in the redevelopment zone to begin planning today for tomorrow’s growth in the corridor.

“Based on this vision and any Master Plan updates, local municipalities should begin thinking about how current zoning must evolve to re-envision the corridor into a mixed-use economic district,” the plan states. “Land use considerations should include strategic locations for development nodes and clusters, specific design requirements for high-tech industry and mixed-use development, and the balancing of redevelopment with additional open space preservation, all of which are critical for creating this vision.”